Painting with coffee

If you’ve tried baking with coffee, drinking it, composting the used grounds and using it as a beauty treatment, how about getting touch with your creative side by painting with coffee? Several artists now create watercolour-style paintings using nothing but coffee – and some also incorporate coffee grounds to add texture.

Thai artist Pornchai Lerthammasiri has been using the medium for several years, creating beautiful, monotone landscapes with coffee. He started experimenting after learning about the ancient Chinese art of painting with tea, and soon found the stronger colour of coffee more suited to painting. It’s taken him six years to perfect the technique so that the finished painting will stand the test of time and not deteriorate. He uses different strengths of coffee to achieve different shades, and the resulting picture has a vintage, sepia appearance.

“When I want to paint waterfalls or a distant mountain, I use the spray bottle to soften the pictures.  There are various results that only the brush alone cannot achieve,” he said, in an interview in Preaw – Weekend, a leading Thai magazine.

American artists Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andrew Saur have also embraced the medium – they own the Coffee Art website, and have been painting with coffee for over ten years. They enjoy creating fine art out of something so universal and readily available as coffee, and their work has appeared in exhibitions in several European countries as well as in the U.S. According to Andrew, their coffee art has “attracted a strong following”.

Many artists prefer to use instant coffee for painting, as it’s easier to control the strength and therefore the colour intensity. Once mixed, the liquid is used just like watercolour paint, with varying amounts of water added to produce different shades. It takes a little practice to get it right, as the coffee mixture is stickier and more difficult to work with than standard paint – so you might want to switch on the coffee machine to have a little caffeine yourself before you make a start!